India’s wine industry is still small, but it’s one of the most interesting emerging markets at the moment. Traditionally, beer and spirits have always sold better than wine in India, with wine accounting for just a 2% market share. But over the last two decades, there has been a resurgence in wine making for domestic consumption, and for exports.
What’s the history of India’s wine industry?
Wine making in India goes back thousands of years, when it was introduced by traders from Persia (modern day Iran). And while viticulture has always happened in India, it was particularly popular during he British and Portuguese colonisation in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the wine industry went into decline thanks to public opinion changing. After India became independent from the British empire, vineyards were used to make table grapes and raisins, rather than wine grapes. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a firm revival in the wine making industry in India and demand started to increase.
At the start of the 21st century, demand for Indian made wine increased at the rate of about 30% every year. And by 2020, the city of Nashik, which is found in Maharashtra state is known as the ‘wine capital of India’.
Climate diversity means different challenges for Indian winemakers
India boasts a hugely diverse climate and geology, meaning some regions do not work at all for winemaking, and others are ideal. Lots of the successful wine regions are found within an area that has a tropical climate, and are generally planted at altitudes of between 660ft and 3,300 ft.
Because of the intense heat in the wine regions, various production methods are used. These include training vines off the ground to help them avoid fungal diseases. Using canopies, grapes are shielded from sunburn, and the high temperatures usually mean high yields and multiple harvests.
Sula Vineyards is the biggest wine producer in India
Sula Vineyards is the leading producer of wine in India, and recently announced the addition of Australia to its list of export countries. It’s now found in more than 30 countries around the world, after adding China to the list in 2019. Australia is particularly important as a market for Indian wine as it is one of the highest consumers of wine in the world.
Partnering with Kismet Trading as distributors, Indian wine from Sula will start out in Adelaide, before moving to Sydney and Melbourne. Sula intends to export wines including Dindori Reserve Shiraz and Riesling to Australia.
Wines from Sula vineyards in Nashik account for more almost two-thirds of the market share in India. They’re sold in countries including Austria, Holland, Spain, France, Italy, the US, Germany, Norway, Japan, Nepal, South Korea and China among others. And at home in India, Sula has released the first canned Indian wine with the Dia Sparkler.
Canned wine is a huge market in the US, worth $70 million according to Nielsen. The market share has also increased by 125% in the UK to more than £3.6 million. Sula Vineyards is the only Indian wine maker to offer products within this market sector.
The Indian wine market as a whole is growing by compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20-25% since 2015. The overall market can be split into imported and domestic, which stand at 30% and 70% respectively.